New research on social media behaviour to improve success

Whilst successful social media campaigns are well documented, we rarely get to hear about the failures and yet according to Gartner, 50% of social media campaigns will fail.

Take Second Life for example. Many brands rushed headlong into this but how many of these ventures were actually deemed successful?  The same could be said for certain social network fan pages. British Airways, reputedly the world’s favourite airline, created a consumer group on Linkedin a year ago and still only has 740  members. Likewise, Manchester United Supporters group, a global brand with a fiercely loyal fan-base, has a mere 704 members.  And yet a luxury brand like Prada seems to be stealing a march with 237k fans on Facebook. Admittedly, the number of followers is not necessarily the main criteria for success but it demonstrates the point that for every social media success story, there’s an equal share of failures.

So how come there’s such disparity?  One contributory factor is the apparent lack of understanding of the rational and emotional motivations behind the adoption of social media, let alone the degree to which this can vary between different target groups.

6 key drivers to social media behaviour

Here at TMW, in conjunction with other agencies within The Creston Group, we conducted an ICM omnibus study of 1000 active social media users to ascertain their motivations behind social media adoption and participation.  The research has revealed some fascinating insights as well as validate our belief that there are 6 key motivational drivers underlying social media behaviour:

1. Discovery: for self-development or to learn from others
2. Altruism: to help others make the right decision or become involved in the brand’s product decision
3. Social: to connect to the like minded, reinforce tribal identity or gain a sense of belonging
4. Fame: for personal notoriety or to challenge their ability against others
5. Escapism: for entertainment and an escape from the daily routine
6. Expression: as an outlet for their imagination or expression of personal identity

Having defined these key drivers one can start to gauge how a particular target audience prefers to interact with social media.  e.g. are your customers more prone to escapism and expression or are they more likely to engage with social media for discovery or altruistic reasons?  It’s important to ask yourself these questions – or better still your customers – because ultimately, a social media plan which is based on the wrong assumptions is more likely to fail.

Outlined below are some of the other main findings from the study:

General research findings

  • Discovery appears to be the strongest motivator with 70% of active users claiming to use social media in order to learn from others.
  • 60% have altruistic tendencies and enjoy the opportunity to input into company’s decisions on product and service decisions.
  • 31% subscribe to fame as a key driver and admit they like to be seen to do well by others in life

Gender differences

  • The strongest motivator for women was the ‘social’ aspect, especially staying in touch with friends. But they are also more motivated by ‘expressing’ their individuality and imagination.
  • Men, on the other hand, lean more towards ‘discovery’, ‘fame’ and the ability to get their opinion heard by a wider audience.

Age differences

  • Those who have grown up with social media (18 to 24 year olds) gain greater pleasure from expressing their individuality (‘expression’) and building their notoriety (‘fame’) than their older peers. Youth brands should therefore consider providing a platform where their target audience can compete and be heard.
  • For 35 to 44 year olds, ‘altruism’ and ‘discovery’ motivations are particularly strong. The clearest opportunities for brands are, therefore, to provide the tools to help them learn and allow them to help others make the right choice.

In summary

When developing social media plans it may be worthwhile taking a step back to try and understand how and why your target audience are using social media in their daily lives.  This should help to inspire a strategic approach which not only creates a suitable platform for participation but also gives your campaign the best chance of success.


2 thoughts on “New research on social media behaviour to improve success

  1. Pingback: Essential tools to understanding your target audience’s social media behaviour « 'If only we'd thought of that'

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